The standard cable-tool drilling rig was invented and developed in drilling salt wells in the West Virginia-Ohio-Pennsylvania region during the twenty years following the successful completion of the first drilled well in 1808 by the Ruffner brothers at the Great Buffalo Lick near Charleston, West Virginia. Some time previous to 1823, Levi Disbrow studied the drilling methods used in the western salt industry and came east to become the first professional water well driller in the states north of the Potomac River.Possibly the first artesian water well in the United States was constructed in 1820 in Charleston, South Carolina, by sinking an iron pipe through a clay bed. Auger boring for artesian water appears to have been first used in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1823; however, the first successful auger-bored well was not completed in that city until after 1825. The drilling methods and tools were copied from a description of a well bored in London, England.Between 1821 and 1833 auger boring of artesian wells began in the Black Belt of Alabama and possibly in Mississippi. The process of jetting wells, invented in 1884, became the chief method of sinking artesian wells in the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain by the end of the century. The first successful artesian wells in Georgia and Florida were put down during the period 1880-1882.

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